Moving offices can be a major undertaking for your team or operations department, but it can also affect your local SEO presence and potential clients. Appearing in the local pack is super important, and if your potential clients are googling you during your move - what can you do to make sure you have the smoothest transition?
About 2-3 months before you move, you should start formulating your marketing plan.
First things first, where does your business information appear on the internet? Obviously, your website, your email signature, but what directory listings are you on? Directory listings are any place on the internet where your business information may appear. Here’s a breakdown of places your business may be listed:
The main place we all think about is Google, more specifically, Google My Business (GMB). This is typically, and ideally, the first place a potential client will find you if they are googling your practice area and your city. The other main search listings would be Bing, Yellow Pages, and Yelp.
Facebook pages, Google+, and Linkedin should all have places where your location is listed. Not all social profiles have an option to update the address. Twitter bios probably don’t have your address - nor is that an important aspect of Twitter.
You’ll want to make sure your Avvo, HG.org, Nolo & Martindale listings are all up-to-date. Lawyers.com & Martindale.com do verify the address change, which is nice to be aware of for your mail handler.
There are the profiles that are unique to your practice and the clientele you serve. Are you a member of the state or local bar association? Are you involved in the LRS program? Are you in any local or niche directories such as the better business bureau, a neighborhood association, or any other professional directory listing?
As the majority of the work is actually updating directories, you will want to make sure you have someone in place to accomplish this in a timely fashion. This is especially important as the updates are time-sensitive--so while you are moving, you could have someone making the updates.
Depending on how many listings you have, you may need to block some significant amount of time. It could take just over 2 hours to update 30 listings. The majority of your listings can be updated in about an hour, or an hour and a half, as it’s pretty straight-forward work.
You may want to block some extra time for troubleshooting a few tricky websites or listings. And make sure to schedule a time to review the bigger listings, like Google My Business, to make sure that the information is accurate.
You can do this ahead of time to alert anyone you are actively emailing about your physical change of address (especially important for things like invoicing or setting appointments).
Make sure to schedule these tasks the week of, or closest to the day you move.
You need to update your Google My Business listing a few days before you move. Google takes their verification process seriously. They will send you a postcard to your new address to verify that location. This can take up to 7 days.
If you are not the owner of your Google My Business profile, Google support instructs that you “suggest an edit” and update the new information. Per their support forum edits are reviewed sooner than owner verification. If you have already updated all other listings and website, this might take effect sooner.
A note of warning, there is a slight chance these updates can result in a suspension of the profile if there is any discrepancy in information from another profile (for example, Google+). BA suspension fear! Suspension is easily appealed by filling out a simple form. Keep calm and carry on.
Sidebar: If you are reading this and you have not created, claimed or verified your ownership of Google My Business listing, then you should make this a priority task. See this post by Gyi for reasons why you should put extra effort into your GMB account.
I know this sounds like a given, but it also is easily overlooked! Make sure to schedule a reminder to have your website updated the day of, or just after your move.
There are some simple final tasks that you can prepare ahead of time.
Whether or not you are regularly using email to keep up with clients and your professional network, this is a great opportunity to email anyone on your current list. It can be a simple message saying you’ve moved - nothing fancy.
Update your social network with a simple “we’ve moved!” message. On Facebook, when you update your address on your business page, the update will appear on your timeline. You can also make a special post to alert those followers that you are moving.
About two - six weeks after, you may want to check on any troublesome listing or any that needed verification.
This list is exhaustive and not every task item may apply to your practice, but this should get you thinking about how to manage and prioritize your digital move. At the very least, you’ll want your website and email signature to get updated. If your business relies on google inquiries, the biggest priority will be to update Google.
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